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December 26, 2014 / 4 Tevet, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘Arab Spring’

In the Short Run, Biden Might Well Keep his Promise that Iran Won’t Get Nukes

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

{Originally posted at author’s website, Liberty Unyielding}

It’s not just the promise, of course.  It’s the Bidenesque way he makes it:

Monday, Biden had to remind Israeli leaders that the U.S. is not seeking a negotiation with Iran at Israel’s expense.

“I have heard so much malarkey about our position on Iran,” Biden said. “We will not let Iran acquire a nuclear weapon, period. I would not put my 42-year reputation on the line if I were not certain when I say it. We mean it.”

Daniel Greenfield casts a doubt or two on that 42-year reputation, and that’s fair enough.  We would be fools to take seriously such assurances from Joe Biden.

But there are reasons why Iran may well delay that moment of focused provocation when the radical Islamic regime proves itself nuclear armed.  If the Iranians don’t have the means to offer that proof yet, they are very close to it – so close that it is now their choice how fast to move, and in what way.

Where we are

Iran now lacks only the public demonstration of uranium enrichment to a weapons-grade level (above 95%), and a detectable warhead detonation.  To talk of a “breakout” capacity – a bomb-in-waiting – as something we are still looking for is now misleading.  Using such terms suggests that there is something more we need to see from Iran, before we officially set the breakout watch.

But the reality is that there is nothing we have yet to see that we can reliably expect to see.  We’ve reached the point at which it is prudent to assume the breakout watch has already started – and imprudent not to.

Fifteen years ago, Iran did not have a reliable uranium enrichment process; did not have an industrial-scale infrastructure for enrichment; did not have a stockpile of enriched uranium; did not have her own uranium production capacity; did not have a detonator mechanism for a uranium warhead; did not have a missile that could deliver a nuclear warhead; and did not have anything close to an intercontinental missile capability.

As little as six years ago, moreover, the United States had more than enough ready combat power, between our Air Force and Navy, to quickly strike a meaningful blow against an Iranian nuclear infrastructure that was still comparatively rudimentary and geographically concentrated.

Both of those conditions have changed significantly.  Iran now does have all the things she lacked in 1999: enough low-enriched uranium for at least 7-8 warheads; a proven enrichment process, including enrichment to higher purity (19.75%); an industrial-scale infrastructure, with geographic dispersion; an indigenous uranium production capacity (see here and here); a tested detonator mechanism for a nuclear warhead; at least one medium-range ballistic missile series that could deliver a nuclear warhead; and a satellite/rocket program advanced enough to support ICBM testing in as little as 1-3 years.  Iran has acquired almost all of these things since UN sanctions were implemented in 2007, and under the regime of IAEA inspections.

Reminder: Nothing has interrupted the trend of Iran’s uranium enrichment. Red column shows low-enriched UF6 stockpiled (versus total cumulative enrichment in blue), once Iran began enriching some stock to 20% in Jan 2012. Although Iran has “downblended” her 20%-enriched stock, the rate of increase in the total stockpile of 5% LEU has been robust: 17% from 11/13 to 11/14. (Data source: IAEA)

Reminder: Nothing has interrupted the trend of Iran’s uranium enrichment. Red column shows low-enriched UF6 stockpiled (versus total cumulative enrichment in blue), once Iran began enriching some stock to 20% in Jan 2012. Although Iran has “downblended” her 20%-enriched stock, the rate of increase in the total stockpile of 5% LEU has been robust: 17% from 11/13 to 11/14. (Data source: IAEA)

American military power, in the meantime, has declined to such an extent that mounting a quick, comprehensive strike on the Iranian infrastructure is no longer feasible.  We couldn’t do it quickly.  Not only could we not do it quickly; we couldn’t do it without first restoring the readiness of military units we no longer keep at their highest readiness level.  It would take months to prepare for a comprehensive strike campaign – and would require the prior allocation of special funding from Congress.

Where Iran once wanted to be

Iran’s vision for the future has been shaped, as everyone’s has, by the consequences of the Arab Spring.  It has also been shaped by the withdrawal of American power under Obama.

Four or five years ago, Iran took as a given the U.S. posture in the larger Middle East.  That posture included a key strategic presence in both Iraq and Afghanistan; close partnerships with almost all the Gulf Cooperation Council nations; special relationships, including military cooperation, with both Egypt and Israel; and unchallenged supremacy on the regional seas.

Iran’s basic objective was to peel America’s partners away through the pressure of proxy insurgencies (and other underhanded tactics), and thus squeeze us out of the region.  The first-order purpose of having the bomb was to immunize Iran against retaliation in that process, as the USSR had immunized itself with a nuclear “deterrent” force when it worked through proxy conflicts in the Cold War.

Iran also set her sights on chokepoints in the regional waterways, from the Strait of Hormuz through the Red Sea and all the way to Morocco and the Strait of Gibraltar.  No one was close to having a navy that could challenge the U.S. Navy, but even great navies are vulnerable in chokepoints.

At a kind of eschatological-strategic level, meanwhile, just as the Arab Spring was unfolding in early 2011, Iranian TV was running a mullah-approved “documentary” that outlined a scheme of military preparation for the arrival of the “twelfth imam.”  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad figured as a great military commander from Shia prophecy in this fantastical oeuvre, which depicted a dénouement in the armed conquest of Jerusalem.  (“Rescuing” Jerusalem had already figured for years in Iranian policy rhetoric, as well as in the concept of some major military exercises.)

Where Iran now wants to be

In the years since Obama took office, much has changed.  One thing hasn’t, and that’s Iran’s interest in gaining leverage at critical chokepoints in the regional seaways.  But some of the focused urgency has been bled out of the pressure campaign against America’s regional partners, in part because of the Arab Spring, and in part because Barack Obama has been doing an excellent job of peeling them away from us himself.

The momentum of Iran’s efforts has shifted to a new, more geographically focused vector, one that as recently as 2011 appeared to be unthinkable.  Where once Iran was confined to putting general pressure on various American partners in the region, and perhaps maneuvering to leapfrog nearby territory in which we seemed established – Iraq, Jordan, Israel – Iran can now realistically contemplate making an “internal” line of communication (LOC) through that territory.  She might accomplish that by proxy first, and then, eventually, exploit the LOC directly.

In fact, with much of the territory in question now disputed between ISIS and a weak Iraqi government, Iran has all the more reason for being there, with advisors and military equipment.

The bonus?  The U.S., weakened and compromised as our power is, has signed up to do at least some of the fighting against ISIS.  If Iran plays her cards right, American forces will open her strategic LOC through the heart of the Middle East for her.

The Israeli-Arab Ice Age Begins

Saturday, November 8th, 2014

A few months ago, an Israeli-Arab, a Bedouin, a man for whom Israel provided education and every opportunity to better himself (as it does for every citizen), who as a result rose from the lowest socio-economic level in the country to becoming a doctor at one of Israel’s most respected hospitals, went and joined ISIS and got himself killed.

As I write this, Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem, and now in parts of the rest of the country, are destroying themselves, trying their best to bring the Arab Ice-Age to Israel.

Some claim, if only we integrate Arabs better, or collect their garbage more often, or pave more potholes, things would be different.

Those claims, ignore the ongoing investments that have been made in Arab communities. Those claims ignore the educational opportunities Israeli-Arabs receive. Those claims ignore that the Jerusalem Light Rail which Jerusalem’s Arabs have been destroying is the same train they otherwise take to work. Those claims ignore the reality in front of them.

The Israeli-Arab doctor who joined ISIS didn’t join because he didn’t have indoor toilet in his tent.

The Israeli-Arab joined ISIS because his own Arab-Islamic culture encouraged it.

Some secularist want to claim that its the fault of Yehudah Glick and other Jews who go up to the Temple Mount, who are instigating these riots. Or maybe Jews buying homes from Arabs at above market-value prices.

And while its true, more Jews want to go up and pray than ever, the reality is that Glick has been going up for years, and it’s not Glick nor any Jews that initiated or instigated the violence. That’s like blaming the rape victim.

The war stems from both Arab-Islamic culture, as well as from our own Israeli secularists who don’t understand the nature of this unidirectional religious war.

In 1967, Rabbi Goren wanted to initiate Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, and he even succeeded for a short time. He even suggested that Israel take the mosque down, and correctly pointed out that this would be Israel’s only opportunity to do so.

But instead, avowed secularist Moshe Dayan mistakenly gave up the Temple Mount to the completely flabbergasted Arabs who not only expected Israel to do its worse, but after losing so spectacularly, would have quietly accepted the worst Israel could have done.

The riots we have now in Jerusalem, stem 100% from Moshe Dayan’s frightful secular-inspired mistake.

The Arab-Islamists learned that the secular Israeli has no respect for his own history, birthright, heritage and religion. They didn’t see restraint as stemming from strength. They saw fear. And then inspired them to fight on, rather than confront their deepest fear.

Secular Jews think this is a war about land. If they think it’s a religious war at all, they blame religious Jews for it.

But even if every Jew in Israel were secular, we’d still be in a religious war with the Arab-Islamists, because for them this is a religious war for their own survival.

It’s not because the Temple Mount or even the Land of Israel is specifically important to them.

It is the center of their religious battle with us, because Jewish control over the Temple Mount negates the tenets of their Islamic faith — and that fraudulence is a crisis they can’t deal with. The closer Jews are to controlling the Temple Mount, the closer we are to negating their religion in their eyes, and the more they need to fight us.

This latest Intifada will be quelled by Israel, though how long it will take will depend on Israel’s determination to win.

But until Israel starts respecting Jewish rights to our holy sites, temporarily quelled or not, this war will continue.

Why are Feminists Not Standing Up for Israel?

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

T.S. Eliot was wrong. March, not April, is the cruelest month. Certainly it is at New York University.  In the early days of the month a conference took place there on “Circuits of Influence: United State, Israel, and Palestine.”  The conference was organized by Lisa Duggan, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis, whose academic fields at NYU are listed as lesbian and gay studies, and the history of gender and sexuality.

Professor Duggan is a gender scholar rather than a political scientist renowned for expertise in Middle East history and politics. She is presently president-elect of the American Studies Association (ASA) that on December 4, 2013 disgraced itself and the academic world by its ignorance, its bias, and its bigotry in calling for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. The resolution of the ASA, by 66 per cent of voters, endorsed the Palestinian call for a boycott because of alleged denial of Palestinian basic rights by Israel. The resolution said nothing about the denial of women’s basic rights by Palestinians and other Arabs.

Professor Duggan’s invitation to the conference was ironic. It was sent only to selected recipients, and said, “Please do not post or circulate the flyer (about the conference). We are trying to avoid press, protestors, and publication.” It was ironic because the conference avoided confrontation by inviting only those who were not known for their pro-Israeli views.

The NYU meeting was not exactly secret, but it was a closed-door conference. To no great surprise, it coincided with the celebration of Israel Apartheid Week. It may perhaps have been described as a meeting discussing the Protocols of the Learned Leaders of the boycotters or the New York friends of the ASA.
It is not clear, though one can guess the reasons, why leaders of an association created to deal with American studies, and especially if they are most interested in women’s issues, make declarations on Middle Eastern affairs or why they are primarily or solely concerned with the State of Israel. One would have thought that Professor Duggan and other members of the ASA might be more properly concerned with the problems that women encounter in Arab Middle East societies, including that of Palestinian.

The nature of those problems is detailed in reports of NGO Monitor and various think tanks. Women in all the Middle East countries, except Israel, have few rights, and do not enjoy equality with men. The gender gap in those countries is among the highest in the world. Women are discriminated against in almost all relationships and activities, in marriage, divorce, child custody, and inheritance. They are restricted in movement, expression, and work opportunities. Women suffer from being forced into child marriage, female genital mutilation, and “honor” crimes, which may be punished by death.

Professor Duggan and her ASA colleagues must know that there has been no significant improvement in women’s lives in spite of the “Arab spring.” In most Arab countries women are marginalized; in Islamic societies they are repressed. She should know that the lack of freedom for women in all Middle East countries, except Israel, is a major problem in the world today. Have she and her colleagues in the ASA, reported on this? Are they so concerned with their ideological attack on Israel that they have no time or thought for the political and social freedom of women? Even though they are supposedly interested in American studies, why do the members of ASA not state clearly and unequivocally that women in the Arab world including the Palestinians should enjoy the same rights and opportunities as women in Israel?

Let’s deliver a clear message from the 1993 UN Vienna Declaration to Duggan and the ignorant and biased boycotters of Israel.  The Declaration called for the full and equal participation of women in political, civil, economic, social and cultural life, at all levels, and eradication of all forms of discrimination on grounds of sex.

It may well be, as the UN Arab Human Development report of 2005 said, that it is beyond the power and resources of women’s movements to affect the condition of women in the Middle East. But perhaps Duggan, with the support of other women in the ASA, might have organized a conference on the subject. She might have addressed the problem of why the 2011 departure of dictators in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, and Libya has not led to fundamental reforms for women.

The UN Arab Human Development Reports (AHDR), written by Arab scholars about conditions in the 22 member states of the Arab League, have recognized the major problem: the oppression of women. Women suffer from inequality with men and are vulnerable to discrimination in law and in practice.  The prevailing masculine culture and values view women as dependents of men.  Those AHDR reports clearly state the need for change: Arab societies must provide for the complete empowerment of Arab women. Specifically, they should deal with illiteracy (more than half of Arab women are illiterate), the low rate of education of women, maternal mortality, and the low participation of women in politics.

The statistics in the Global Gender Gap Index, compiled by the World Economic Forum, which measures gender-based disparities, confirms the AHDR conclusions. Of the 136 countries analyzed in terms of the access of women to education, political participation, economic opportunity, and health, the Arab countries come last. Political empowerment of women in Saudi Arabia and Qatar is listed as zero.

Gender-based discrimination exists in personal status laws which require permission of a male relative for marriage, favor husbands in divorce cases, give fathers the rights in child guardianship, restrict freedom of movement, make it difficult for women to get a passport, and deprive women of their proper inheritance. In the law courts the testimony of women is regarded as of less value than that of men in a number of countries. Dress codes for women are enforced by the religious police force.

Beyond all this legal and social inequality there is the matter of domestic violence against women. Rape is usually not seen as a criminal offense. Honor killings exist in many of the Arab societies, including that of the Palestinian Authority. It is legal for women to be beheaded, burnt alive, stoned, and tortured for “immoral” behavior such as adultery or having sexual relations with a non-Muslim man. They are also forbidden to marry non-Muslims. On the other hand, polygamy is legal in a number of Arab countries.

Given her scholarship on the history of sexuality, Professor Duggan must surely be familiar with the sad condition of women in all Middle East countries except Israel, where women have full social and political rights. Can we expect her as the leader of ASA, to organize a conference on that sad condition and to call for equality and justice for women in the Arab countries?  If not, she may be judged guilty of indifference to the problems of women.
Originally published at The American Thinker.

Worth Watching: ’1000 days in Syria’

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

I’m going to be honest.  I don’t agree with everything my old buddy Avi Lipkin is up to nowadays, but I think his “1000 days in Syria” talk is excellent and definitely something everyone should listen to.

Avi talks about the Arab spring, Syria and Hillary Clinton.


Peres Hoping for a Possible ‘Iranian Spring’ Rebellion

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

President Shimon Peres said on Thursday that he sees the possibility of an “Iranian Spring” rebellion that would upset the Iranian regime’s nuclear cart.

“Don’t underestimate the power and ability of the people,” the president said in an on-stage interview at The Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference.

Is it possible? Yes. Is it probable? Who knows?

But is it desirable?

The United States praised the new promised democracies in the Middle East as the Arab Spring rebellions swept from Tunisia throughout the region.

In every single case – Tunisia, Yemen, Libya, Egypt and Syria – a brutal dictatorship has been replaced by brutal anarchy, which only has made the entire region more unstable, unreliable and unpredictable.

But the Peres mentality is identical with his Nobel Peace Prize promoters in the U.S. State Dept., where its experts have doctorate degrees on the Middle East and Islam but don’t know hummus from techina.

The United States was hopeful for an “Iranian Spring” under the Ahmadinejad regime in 2009 and 2010. His goon squads put out the fires.

The Obama administration welcomed the Arab Spring rebellion in Egypt, ushered out Mubarak and now is without a reliable voice in Cairo, which is trying to climb the slippery slope of bankruptcy under a military regime that knows an election now would result in more chaos and violence.

Libya, where the United States thought it was saving the country from Qaddafi, is facing civil war.

Both Al Jazeera and The Huffington Post on Thursday ran an analysis that, in brief, stated that the country is flooded with weapons and rival tribes that are not far away from turning into chaos – again.

For Peres’ short memory, two years ago plus one day, the Libyan National Transitional Council declared “the liberation of Libya” after the civil war in which Qaddafi was killed a few days later.

Ostensibly, the United States did not intervene in Egypt or Syria as it did in Libya. Instead, the Obama administration has encouraged upheaval in the name of democracy and has received anarchy in the name of upheaval.

Israel was much better off with Mubarak and still is better off with Assad. “Better the enemy you know than the one you don’t know.”

Assad, for all his threats and demands of Israel, never has been a direct threat. Unlike Jordan and Egypt, there is no “peace treaty” to fret over.

Peres’ concern on Iran, of course, is focused on the threat of nuclear weapons.

If there were to be an Iranian Spring, not even President Peres – Mr. Optimism – knows if it would be for the better or the worse, and it would not necessarily spell the end of a nuclear Iran.

Forcing change is risky in the Middle East.

Does Peres remember what happened in Iraq?

Remember Gen. “Stormin’ Norman Schwarzkopf? He commanded a typically American “victory” in the 2001 Gulf War, carrying out a textbook offensive to crush Saddam Hussein’s war machine, declare victory and return as a war hero.

If President Peres reads the right newspapers, he knows that Iraq is plagued by suicide bombings and terrorist attacks almost every day.

The United States may have won the war, but it lost Iraq. For more on that, read what The Jewish Press’ Yori Yanover wrote here.

The aftershocks of the war were the same as those after the Arab Spring rebellions.

Mr. President, are you sure you want another one?

Syrian Mine Blows Up Minibus; Women and Children among 21 Dead

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

A mine explosion as a minibus drove by on Wednesday killed 21 people, including women and children, near the birthplace of the Arab Spring revolution against the Assad regime more than three years ago.

Four children and six women were among the victims in the city of Noa in the Deraa province, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Activists for the opposition said the vehicle ran over a mine in the rebel-held territory, not far from a base of soldiers loyal to Syrian President Bassar al-Assad.

Clashes continued to Wednesday despite pleas from the Arab League and Muslim groups for a temporary ceasefire during the current Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha. Between 27 and more than 55 soldiers, depending on which report can be believed, were killed by rebels the past two days.

Obama Tries to Buy Democracy in Egypt with Cut in Military Aid

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

The Obama administration is cutting back military aid to Egypt in another effort to force democracy on a Muslim country that has become more unstable and violent with every American move to prove to Egyptians it knows what is best for them.

U.S. State Dept. assistant spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters Wednesday, “The President has…been clear that we are not able to continue to with business [with Egypt] as usual. As you know, we have already announced that we are not proceeding with the delivery of certain military systems… We will continue to support a democratic transition and oppose violence as a means of resolving differences in Egypt.”

The American government is suspending shipments of F-16 warplanes, Apache helicopters, 1,000 M1 tanks, spare parts needed for maintenance and missiles, among other items.

The cut in aid is “pending credible progress toward an inclusive, democratically elected civilian government through free and fair elections,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

The last time the United States tried that game, it resulted in the election of the Muslim Brotherhood government. One year later, the Obama administration saw its game plan went awry, and it backed the ouster of the democratically-elected government.

In other words, it wants the Egyptian military regime to get off its horse and take another crack at corrupting Islam with democratic elections.

If “corrupt” sounds too harsh, here is what former Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin (Fuad) Ben-Eliezer, born and raised in Iraq and a lot more in tune with the Arabic mentality that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and a long line of “have a nice day” predecessors.

He told Voice of Israel radio the Americans do not understand that democracy contradicts Islamic law.

But the Obama administration insists on forcing a round pole into a square hole.

Mubarak was an autocrat and a dear friend of several U.S. governments, but when the Arab Spring rebellion brought out the worst of Mubarak, with nearly 1,000 Egyptians brutally killed, the Obama administration jumped on the anarchists’ bandwagon and encouraged his overthrow.

Once it appeared the radical Muslim Brotherhood would be a dominant force, it did somersaults away from a strong policy of staying clear of the Brotherhood and instead began embracing it, despite its open anti-American and anti-Israel agenda.

The White House and Foggy Bottom congratulated the Muslim Brotherhood on winning the elections because it was a victory for democracy.

The rest is history. After one year, the Brotherhood proved just as corrupt and brutal as Mubarak, but politically ignorant.

So the Obama administration decided that democracy is not such a great idea when radical Muslims win.

Out goes the Muslim Brotherhood and in its place comes a “temporary” military regime, desperately trying to save Egypt from bankruptcy and from Hamas and Al Qaeda terrorists and  a few other fanatical groups vying for 72 virgins.

But the military regime was not very polite to the Brotherhood and brutally killed protesters. That is what Mubarak did. That is what the Brotherhood did. It seems that is the way things run in Egypt.

But Washington knows better and now is holding back some military aid, which will make it even harder for the regime to combat terrorists, such as those who killed four Egyptian soldiers Thursday morning in a car bomb explosion in the Sinai.

“We’ll see, next time, when a U.S. aircraft carrier wants to go through the Suez Canal, whether it goes to the front of the line,”  David Schenker, director of the Arab politics program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told Bloomberg News Wednesday He added that  Egyptians “do a lot of things that are very helpful to us and they can be less helpful.”

The American government has thrown itself in a corner with a law that requires the suspension of aid to countries where there has been a coup d’etat, which the administration refuses to admit occurred in Egypt.

Despite the new suspension in military aid, the United States still is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into Egypt.

Paul Gamble, Director of the Africa & Middle East team of Fitch’s Sovereign Ratings Group, told Asharq Al-Awsat. “This does not mean any less money is going to the Egyptian economy, so it really does not have an impact. It’s more a political gesture.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/obama-tries-to-buy-democracy-in-egypt-with-cut-in-military-aid/2013/10/10/

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